The Observer is a student-run, daily print & online newspaper serving Notre Dame, Saint Mary's & Holy Cross. Learn about us.



The American work environment

| Thursday, October 31, 2019

Dear editor,

There is a problem in the United States with what is considered reasonable expectations of workers. The citizens of America work longer hours than other developed countries for less money, without experiencing the same level of benefits that these countries enjoy. Further, it is found that Americans are laboring under these harsher conditions but netting less GDP per hour than these other nations. According to a study conducted by the OECD, the United States ranks 29th out of the 35 countries surveyed for workplace productivity. This is all occurring in a stressful workplace environment, as American workers are more stressed and worried than the global average. According to the New York Times, 55% of Americans feel stressed “a lot of the day,” and furthermore, 45% say that they felt “a lot of worry” regarding workplace conditions and compensation. These figures are 20% and 6% above the global averages, respectively. In addition, earning a low income correlates with these negative workplace experiences. Despite so many Americans having these grievances with their treatment as workers, they consider it the norm. In fact, some Americans point to their longer work week with pride, saying it showcases the nation’s strong work ethic. 

These numbers are worrying, to say the least, and seem to be getting worse, as the United States’ productivity and overall workplace contentedness has been falling consistently in the past few years. Something must be done.

Several studies have been conducted in the past regarding the 40-hour work week and its effectiveness in the modern workplace environment. Studies have shown that reducing the amount of hours in the work week has little to no impact on productivity. Consequently, implementing these changes have been shown to increase workplace happiness and result in workers taking fewer sick days off. We strongly believe that if these changes are adopted, Americans will be happier and more productive. And really, who doesn’t want that?


Thomas Plummer


Sean Michalec


James Bonadonna


Angel Rodriguez



Oct. 15

The views expressed in this Letter to the Editor are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.

Tags: , , ,

About Letter to the Editor

Letters to the Editor can be submitted by all members of the Notre Dame community. To submit a letter to the Viewpoint Editor, email [email protected]

Contact Letter